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Surprise, Texas: The New Page-turning Novel From Folksinger Andy Wilkinson

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Andy Wilkinson, one of the Lone Star State’s finest singer-songwriters, just released his first novel. Entitled “Surprise, Texas”, the book is a story of “how we sometimes must become what we pretend to be.” Its inspiration came from Wilkinson’s encounter with celebrity look-a-likes at a music festival where he was playing. In this book, as in Wilkinson’s songs and poems, the landscape of Texas itself is a character, vivid and full of life.

Surprise, Texas: The New Page-turning Novel From Folksinger Andy Wilkinson

Photo: Justin Burrus

Wilkinson was born and raised in west Texas. When Andy was a young boy, his grandmother used to tell him stories about her famous uncle—the legendary rancher Charlie Goodnight. This personal connection with Texas history had a profound impact on Wilkinson and led to his belief in the importance of history as a means of learning deep truths about the human condition. Wilkinson went on to write and record the award-winning album “Charlie Goodnight,” a true Texas classic.

In 1972, Wilkinson earned his undergraduate degree in sociology from Texas Tech. Afterward, he started graduate work at the University of Denver and also worked as a police officer. “Policework for me gave me perspective on ideas, as much as anything, about myself,” he said. “When you’re a policeman, just like when you’re an artist or a writer, you’re a part of everything and apart from everything… The other thing was, it reinforced Hemingway’s statement that any man’s life, truly told, is a novel. When you’re around people in a variety of circumstances, you recognize that the human being is just a human being. Rich, poor, no matter what ethnicity or place that they come from.”

Surprise, Texas: The New Page-turning Novel From Folksinger Andy Wilkinson
Photo: Wilkinson at a reading of his novel, image by Justin Burrus.

For years, Wilkinson nursed a steady and unrelenting desire to pursue music. After moving back to Lubbock and spending another decade as a businessman, he took a huge leap of faith and left his day job in order to make music. Many well-received albums later, Wilkinson serves today as artist-in-residence at Texas Tech’s Southwest Collection and teaches songwriting.

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